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1924 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
1924 to 2014. Eleanor Slater, a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh and a pioneer in advocating for families of the mentally ill, died May 24, 2014, at her home in the village of Shadyside. A graduate of Carrick High School, Eleanor Briggs began what would become a lifetime of volunteerism during World War II, working as a nurse's aide at Montefiore Hospital. She later worked for Welcome Wagon on the South Side, delivered Meals on Wheels, assisted young children in a Head Start program at Beltzhoover school, tutored at the Ellsworth school, and volunteered at Children's Hospital until 2013. Her major contribution to public service began in the mid 1960s, when her daughter began experiencing mental illness. At that time, mental illness was attributed to a child's upbringing, so that in addition to grappling with a child's illness, parents were blamed for causing it. Frustrated at the lack of information from mental health professionals, Mrs. Slater started up the first local support group for families in the Pittsburgh area in 1980. PAMI (Pittsburgh Alliance for the Mentally Ill) was a branch of the national organization NAMI. She was an advocate for decades and taught the weekly NAMI Family-to-Family curriculum for 11 years. Among many public service awards, she received the Jefferson Award and the Dick Jevon Advocacy Award in 2014. She was also an adventurous world traveller who visited more than 30 countries. She is survived by two daughters, Laura Nowakowski of Pittsburgh and Catherine Desjardins of Arlington, MA; three grandchildren, Megan and Tristan Spence, and Dylan Desjardins; and one great-grandchild, Olive Spence. A Memorial Service will be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to NAMI of Southwestern PA. Arrangements entrusted to the ANTHONY M. MUSMANNO FUNERAL HOME, INC., 412-331-0900.
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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from June 1 to June 2, 2014
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